Auckland ratepayers could throw hundreds of thousands of dollars towards Joseph Parker’s heavyweight title fight, which will take place in the city on December 10.
The boss of the council’s events arm, Brett O’Riley, yesterday confirmed Ateed “continues to be a part of discussions around this opportunity”.
In a statement he said Ateed was “not providing financial sponsorship directly to the fight” but continued to “look for opportunities to market and leverage Auckland on an international stage through world-class events like this”.
He did not say what form any financial assistance would take or whether it was in the order of hundreds of thousands of dollars.
“We will look at opportunities to market Auckland to an international audience, but what form this takes won’t be determined until the fight is confirmed to take place in Auckland.”
It will be interesting to see a business case that justifies this. Can you name the last 3 locations where heavy-weight fights have been held outside of Vegas? Ok, the most recent one then? Did you guess Italy? I hope not. Because it wasn’t. It was Ukraine. Or was it? Perhaps Russia? How many of you been there (wherever it was held) on tourism on the basis of watching the boxing matches? How many of you are planning to go?
On Friday, Parker’s promoters Duco pulled their bid for Government funding for the fight.
Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce and Labour’s sports spokesman Trevor Mallard had questioned if the fight would qualify for the taxpayer-funded major events development fund.
Auckland Mayor Phil Goff is happy to commit ratepayers’ money to the fight, subject to Ateed preparing a business case showing a return to Aucklanders.
Should ratepayer money go towards the fight? Tell us your views
Goff was in the ring at Manukau’s Vodafone Events Centre announcing Parker’s last fight against Alexander Dimitrenko on October 1. Goff, who was campaigning for the mayoralty at the time, said he was a guest of Vodafone, not Duco.
Goff said not everyone liked boxing, “but I think there is value in the sport”.
There is no business case. It can’t possibly be made. Most of you can’t even name the current WBF title holder, what country he represents, and where his last fight was (or who it was against).
Worse, people in the greater Auckland region will now have the privilege of paying for something twice. Once through their rates, and once to Duco to actually get to see what they’re paying for.
The case for getting public money to prop up a commercial event that will have no tangible benefit to ratepayers is going to be interesting. If it didn’t exist for central government, it definitely doesn’t scale down to Auckland.
Act leader and Epsom MP David Seymour said it was “absolutely inappropriate” for ratepayers to sponsor a boxing match.
He said the Government had “narrowly escaped getting sucker-punched by Duco Events,” and should scrap the major events fund altogether.
Seymour said Aucklanders were concerned about the proliferation of activity, lack of focus and elected members playing second fiddle to the council-controlled organisations (CCOs).
“This a great opportunity to put Ateed back in their box,” he said. “They are seriously going to fund something that central government avoided funding.”
Corporate welfare is wrong. I criticise it every time. And in this case, it is just to assist people already making out like a lone whore in port get even richer, while the rate payer will just get a larger rates bill in exchange for a promise enough people in the world will come to Auckland and spend money… with someone else.
– Bernard Orsman, NZ Herald